Interview: Naoki Yoshida and FFXIV:ARR’s One Year Anniversary

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Today marks the one year anniversary of the launch of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn!

We got the chance to ask Director/Producer Naoki Yoshida about this past year, its challenges, and some of the great memories that have come from it.

Gamer Escape: First, we wanted to congratulate you and the team! A Realm Reborn has been out for a year now and is showing no signs of slowing down. Does it feel like a year has passed since launch?

Yoshida: First and foremost, I want to thank the players, the FINAL FANTASY fans, and the members of the media. Because everyone supported us and played the game, as well as spurred us to work hard, we were able to reach FFXIV’s one year anniversary, which I am very happy about. Thank you very much! However, to be honest with you, it does not feel like a year has passed since launch (laughs). During this year, our development and operation teams were frantically making updates so that we can deliver lots of content to the players. And so, it feels more like “I didn’t realize a year has passed!” I have a stronger desire to not lose the momentum and continue making updates!

Gamer Escape: Given the state of the original version when you took over and the decision to re-launch it- where did you hope the game would be a year after the re-release? Was it always a part of you grand vision to end up with millions of players and a themed cafe?

Yoshida: The “FFXIV” project, and you may already be aware of this, was positioned in my mind as the “project to regain the trust” of the fans, the players, and the members of the media. As such, I didn’t place much of the focus on the numbers, business-wise (although, because I am producer, I made sure to keep us out of the red…), but instead focused on “getting as many people to play FFXIV” as I continued to move forward. And so, more than sales numbers, the fact that so many people continue to play is what makes me happier than anything else. I wouldn’t claim that it was a grand vision, but more like something that I thought, “wouldn’t it be nice if that happened” came true. In terms of the café, I knew about the Vana’diel Café, so it was just a casual thought, something along the lines of: “One day, I would love to do something like that.” But this may be an example of if a person wishes for something and works very hard towards it, it may come true (laughs).

Gamer Escape: Speaking of the cafe, we’ve seen a lot of images coming out of various Japanese websites. How did that come about? Do you have a favorite dish at the cafe?

Yoshida: Eorzea Café came about when I simply submitted a proposal that “I want to make a café where players can meet!” Another major reason was that, in Japan, a Dragon Quest-themed establishment called “Luida’s Bar” already exists, and it has become a place in which Dragon Quest fans gather, so I wanted to make sure we do something like that with FINAL FANTASY as well. With the PR and development teams joining forces to come up with menu ideas and supervising the quality of the dishes, I think the café turned out wonderfully. My favorite dish is the “Leviathan Chilled Noodles.”

leviathan chilled noodles

The blue soup is pretty shocking at first glance, but it’s delicious! We only use natural ingredients to make the color of that soup, and so it’s easy on the body as well, so I would love for you to try it if you visit. That goes for all fans and media outside of Japan, too; if you are ever in Japan for sightseeing or for the Tokyo Game Show, please visit the Eorzea Café!

Gamer Escape: When 1.0 was still running you were working on 2.0. With 2.0 now running, we’ve been told you’re working on an expansion the same size of ARR’s launch! How has the development process changed now that you’re working on expansion content instead of a new game?

Yoshida: The whole “running the current patch while working on the expansion” workflow and management structure definitely is based on our experience from tandem development, where we were running and updating 1.0 while developing ARR. The most difficult part was determining the staff roster. In a typical development process, all staff members have one goal, which is to complete the master build. However, in a tandem development model with patch operation, we set short and long-term goals. Staff members need to be flexible enough to switch between these two as needed. Because there is a limited number of qualified staff members who can both manage their sections and develop content these individuals are called upon to oversee content and production line for both goals. It’s a very difficult development style, and because of this, there are many talented developers that rise out of the junior staff. For this I am very delighted.

Gamer Escape: What are some of the challenges that you and your team have faced during the first year of service?

Yoshida: What comes to mind is definitely the major congestion that followed immediately after the launch of ARR. We didn’t think so many people would rush to play at the beginning, and so we ran out of server space. I still feel very sorry about this. At the time, FFXI held the record of most concurrent users in a Japanese MMORPG. FFXIV started out with a capacity that can cover all of FFXI’s concurrent users, but the record numbers were easily surpassed within the first few days of the launch. The server and infrastructure teams and I did our best to add more servers. In the end, we were able to accommodate the players’ wish to enjoy the game as much as they wished. Adding servers in such a short period of time was the first and biggest challenge in the history of FFXIV:ARR.

Gamer Escape: What are some of your favorite memories from this past year?

Yoshida: While continuing development on updates, I fly around the world for PR activities, but no matter what country I visit, the players, fans and media all tell me “Congratulations!” That is my favorite memory—not only in the past year, but my entire life. I am extremely blessed.

Yoshida reads thank you messages from players at the PAX launch event in 2013.

Yoshida reading thank you messages from players at last year’s PAX  launch event 

Gamer Escape: Is there anything you would like to say to the player’s that have been playing the game since launch?

Yoshida: Because the players have been playing the game consistently, we can develop and make updates, in turn.. I am truly grateful to everyone. Our first FFXIV Fan Festival will happen later this year, and we plan to release more amazing patch content in the future. I sincerely hope that everyone will enjoy the title with a sense of surprise. FFXIV team will never forget that this title is “the latest game in the FINAL FANTASY series” and we will continue to take on new challenges with utmost commitment!
It has been one year since the start of FFXIV: ARR, and four years from the start of FFXIV 1.0. I truly thank all everyone who has supported FFXIV throughout the years! Your continued support is greatly appreciated!

 


  • ElAbuelo69

    YoshiP is the man.

  • GothBoyUK

    He is an incredibly talented man. However, I do worry that they will push 3.0 in a way that means anyone still progressing through 2.x will lose out. From what I gather 1.x to 2.0 was akin to a whole new game (replaced lands, etc). The next expansion needs to be a follow on rather than a replacement.

    I guess we wait and see!

    • PaulJCW

      While its true 1.0 > 2.0 was essentially an entire new game, that was because 1.0 failed to be a success and needed a great remodel like it has today, so I’ve no doubt the expansion will just be an expansion of the current game, it wouldn’t make sense to redo it a 2nd time when its successful :D I have played from 1.0 and Yoshi has injected everything the game needed to be a success IMO and I’m very grateful for it.

      Don’t worry and keep up the good work Yoshi & the team!

    • Solace

      Yeah, like Paul said, there’s no need to be concerned that 3.0 will replace the game—it won’t. 1.0 was pretty universally acknowledged to be a disaster. It was just a terrible game, from the level system to the UI to the way every little thing you did (even in your menus) had to be communicated server-side and lagged like crazy. The very framework was so bad that it couldn’t be built upon—it had to be remade entirely. It got terrible reviews and was a black mark on the Final Fantasy brand. So 2.0 was Yoshi-P’s way of basically calling a “do-over” and proving S-E could do FFXIV right. Now that the base is in there and it’s great, they won’t be building from the ground up again—they don’t need to! They’ll just be adding on.

      So don’t worry, there’s 0% chance that 3.0 will replace 2.0. It’ll just be an expansion, not a do-over.

  • cookie

    3.0 will from my understanding be and addition to 2.x, rather then a replacement. As was stated you will still be able to play all of 2.x, with out having 3.0 bought. It will be like CoP, RoTZ, ToAU, where new land/continent is added and where you can go when you pay for the expansion. But if you don’t have it yet you can still play in the main continent. FFXI can be played with out having a single expansion. The expansions add a lot, but are in NO way required.